As we head towards the end of a very strange year for international working in the arts, we are thankful that we have been able to stay connected virtually to our international partners.  We’re hopeful and looking forward to a time in 2021 when we are able to connect and meet physically.

However, we fully appreciate that 2021 will also bring a new set of challenges to those working internationally as the 31 December 2020 marks the end of the EU transition period and on New Year’s Day we will enter a new and very different way of working with our European neighbours. We have below included a short Q&A on what we are doing to prepare.

Since the referendum vote in 2016, Wales Arts International has worked to ensure that the voice of the Arts sector in Wales is heard in the numerous consultations and discussions on the impact of Brexit.  We have advocated for the needs of the sector, particularly around freedom of movement of artists and of participation in key funding programmes such as Creative Europe.

With no successor funds to the EU’s Creative Europe programme as yet, we will continue to press for Wales to become a third country member of the Creative Europe programme as part of current post-Brexit financial planning.

At the time of writing, negotiations on an EU-UK trade deal are ongoing.  We understand the anxieties that this uncertainty brings, alongside the need to prepare for a new way of working.  We want to reassure you that we are here to support the sector in Wales in their future international work and that we will continue to advocate for the needs of the arts sector in any future arrangements with our closest neighbours. 

We continue to campaign for the agreement of practical solutions to potential Brexit issues affecting freedom of movement, ‘frictionless’ borders, visas for creative professionals entering the UK, digital rights and protections for Intellectual Property.

In the New Year will continue to work closely with our sister agencies across the UK to share intelligence and information; and we will be launching the Arts Infopoint UK to support the sector with practical information for international work. You can also find out more about how WAI and the wider Arts Council Wales are meeting the Brexit challenge in ACW’s recent paper “Resetting the Dial”. Please do get in contact with us at WAI if you have any specific concerns you would like to share with us.

On a final note, we have been heartened by the many positive messages we have continued to receive over the last year from partners across the EU who have reiterated their desire to continue to find new ways to work with Wales and the other nations of the UK.

We wish everyone a relaxing break over the festive season and look forward to working with you all in the New Year.

Zélie Flach, European Officer – Wales Arts International



In terms of practical steps you may need to consider to prepare for the end of the EU transition period, there are a number of areas to look at and some helpful resources available online.  The DCMS pages on the UK Government website can be found here and these pages are frequently linked in the guides we’ve mentioned below.

You will need to be checking any relevant changes to:

  • Your employees – if you employ or contract EU citizens
  • Movement of people – if you tour, travel or work in the EU
  • EU funding – if you collaborate or co-produce with European partners
  • Movement of goods – if you export or import goods, services or objects in from or out of the UK
  • Your data – data protection to and from the EU, IP and copyright

We strongly recommend that organisations maintain a risk register for the areas of work that will be affected and include impact on budgets.

Additional resources:


Q&A on how Wales Arts International is preparing for the UK to leave the EU

1. What practical steps is WAI taking to prepare for the UK’s exit of the EU following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020?

We have our risk register of on going issues that will affect our work and that of Arts Council of Wales which is on the Council’s agenda as a regular item (eg visa & immigration rules, IP and copyright, perceptions, exchange rate fluctuations). 

We are more active than ever in our European networks such as IETM and On the Move and will continue to support others in the arts in Wales to join the right networks for them, as we have done in 2020 through our Connect funding.

We are meeting regularly with other Arts Councils of the UK and the Devolved Governments.

We are exploring how artists and arts companies from Wales can continue to work with the Creative Europe programme.

We are focusing our work in the short term on Germany and Ireland. We support artists from Wales to engage with the arts across the EU through our International Opportunities Fund which will reopen in early 2021.


2. What is WAI doing to encourage international work in the arts to start again post Covid post EU Brexit?

With our sister agencies across the UK we are establishing the UK Arts Infopoint to help arts organisations to continue to book international artists and identify barriers and issues resulting from our exit of the EU. 

We continue to work closely with Welsh Government to raise the profile of Wales in international markets through their MoUs and key regional networks. 

We are focusing on new ways of evaluating how our work contributes to the goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

We are supporting much more digital work from Wales particularly on our AM Channel.

We are preparing new campaigns for St David’s Day 2021 and would love to hear of any campaigns you are doing.


3. How difficult will it be for WAI to support artists from Wales to work internationally?

Some things will change, in particular the ease of travel in the EU however we are doing all we can to encourage our sector to identify and overcome those barriers.

We have some reason for optimism with the increase in interest in our international work over the past few years and the increase of artists from Wales engaging with international networks.

The new digital approaches are here to stay and whilst we think we will all be travelling less, there will still be international touring, but more intelligent travel will be needed. We can expect much more about this in the lead up to the COP26 meeting in Glasgow in Autumn 2021.

We are prioritising making the international work more accessible to artists from diverse backgrounds and we will be publishing our work on re-imagining our international work in March 2021.

Conversations around de-colonisation have become global conversations, and although uncomfortable for many, we think Wales has a unique perspective to offer as a culture that has both been colonised and a constituent part of a colonising Empire. We expect much more discussion around this in 2021 and as the UK leaves the EU.


4. What top tips does WAI have for artists and companies in their efforts to prepare:

Join and engage with useful European networks for your work.

Monitor intelligence shared by key organisations and sector bodies.

Allow for much greater costs in international travel.

Develop a blended approach to your international work that includes prioritising digital.

Think of the environment and how you can help to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in Wales as set out by the Wellbeing of Future Generations team which is pioneering in this field globally.